Padraic Mac Coitir shares memories of a friend who died hours earlier to the words being penned.
|Eamonn McCann and Padraic Mac Coitir|
Chuala mé droch scéal faoi Éamonn McCann ag fail bás anocht.
I've known Éamonn since I was a young lad but didn't get to know him well until 1996. A year or two before that he was approached by the local commemoration committee in Leana an Dúin and asked to sculpt a statue and he said he would do it.
A massive stone was bought in County Laois and brought up to the area on the back of a trailer and stored in a shed. I was still in gaol at this time and some of the people involved told me stories when up on visits and they'd me in stitches.
Éamonn suggested a statue of Cú Chulainn done and once the locals agreed the work started. Éamonn said he needed someone to be cast in plaster so a mould could be made. It had to be a man without a beer belly and preferably over 6 feet tall.
One of the lads agreed to it so on a cold winter's morning he went to the shed and stripped to his trunks. He was then covered in plaster of Paris and as it started to harden he was concerned it was gonna choke him. The other lads who were there were laughing their heads off as they saw Dermy become red then white. He couldn't move for a few hours then Éamonn said the plaster was set so he'd cut it off. As he started to use the secateurs they cut into Dermy and he was nearly crying. Once it was cut off Dermy was shivering with the cold and his skin was nipped all over.
When I got out I would call to the shed regularly and Éamonn would always burst out laughing whenever Dermy called to see how things were going. After a number of years the statue was finished and it was decided to put it in the grounds of the Roddy McCorley social club. It was a big day for us but Éamonn didn't want to be central to it even though we argued with him saying without him it wouldn't have been done.
His nickname was Fingers and instead of carving his own name on the statue he carved the Greek name for Fingers. Éamonn later drove black taxis and he took people on tours of Béal Feirste and I would see him when walking up and down the road. A number of weeks ago I heard he had cancer but didn't realise how bad he was until I saw him last month at a family gathering. Despite his obvious discomfort he was in good form and as usual was laughing and joking. Another of the good guys has gone.